Amanda Roberts’s second reckless and false statement: “What the book is actually about, though, is the one year of Robert’s life in China when he had two concubines – sisters.”
Actually, My Splendid Concubine covers a span of two-years and four months, and Hart meets Ayaou for the first time during the summer of 1855 near the end of Chapter 3 on page 59—19,665 words into the novel. It isn’t until Chapter 12 at about 50,000 words that Hart, Ayaou and Shao-mei come together as a family of sorts. By then we are 44% of the way into the novel.
Roberts’s third reckless, false statement: “The overall structure of the book is also severely lacking. The book opens with Hart, in his 80s, going to see the Dowager Empress Cixi.”
In fact, when Robert Hart meets with the Dowager Empress in 1908, he’s seventy-three—not 80, and he will die by age seventy-six in 1911.
Roberts’s fourth reckless false statement: “Almost every single page describes Hart’s erection in some manner. Only a quarter of a way through the book I knew far more about Robert Hart’s erections than any woman should, even his concubine(s).”
3rd Edition: April 2013
In fact, a quarter of the way into the first 112,538 words is about 88 pages, and the word “erection” appears five times or on 5.7% of the first 88 pages. It is a reckless false statement to claim that “almost every single page describes Hart’s erection in some manner” when more than 94% of the first 88 pages do not refer to his erection.
In fact, the word “erection” is used only nine times on six pages in the entire novel. In addition, Ayaou calls his erection a “sun instrument” and that word is used six times. Together, “erection” and “sun instrument” appear 15 times or 0.013% of the time.
I think it is safe to say that Roberts was very uncomfortable with the sexual themes of this novel for her to exaggerate nine of 112,538 words into “almost every page describing Hart’s erection in some manner.”
Continued on March 23, 2013 in Dissecting the “Moral Duty” of a Reckless and False Review: Part 4 or return to Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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